Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 12:48Â p.m.Â Wednesday,Â AprilÂ 25,Â 2012
While the Dolphins will be the first to pick in the NFL Draft among the four AFC East teams Thursday night at No. 8, Buffalo (which picks 10th), the New York Jets (16th) and New England (27th and 31st) also will be out to fill needs.
A closer look at the direction each might take in the early rounds:
NEW YORK JETS
While they haven't done it in the last two drafts, the Jets have a reputation for trading up (see: Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, David Harris) and could do so if they're convinced anyone could make a huge difference. The target in that regard likely would be Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
A relatively quiet free-agent signing period has left the team with more holes than usual, however, so it seems more likely GM Mike Tannenbaum will try to address them with his full complement of picks (10).
Insiders feel outside linebacker, wide receiver and safety are the team's biggest needs. Depending on who is on the board, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Alabama safety Mark Barron and Stanford guard David DeCastro have emerged as their most likely options.
Bill Belichick seems to go out of his way to cross up the New England media when making his picks. While the media hawked the needs for defensive ends and linebackers the past few years, Belichick was trading down (2010) and picking an offensive tackle (Nate Solder in 2011).
While the Patriots could trade down, as they did with Denver last year, they again seem to have a dire need for edge rushers after losing two who tied for the team-lead with 10 sacks apiece in Mark Anderson (signed with Buffalo) and Andre Carter (now a free agent with a torn quadriceps).
The Pats also have a dire need at safety, where receiver Matthew Slater was pressed into action last year, and the offensive line must be addressed with tackle Matt Light officially retired and guard Logan Mankins coming off recent ACL surgery.
An offensive line that was already short on talent took another hit when offensive tackle Demetress Bell signed with Philadelphia, so many mock drafts have the Bills taking Iowa tackle Riley Reiff with their first selection.
General Manager Buddy Nix pumped up the fan base with the offseason addition of edge rusher Mario Williams, but the Bills still have plenty of holes, particularly on defense. If they opt to address the secondary, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is one option.
And while quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a long-term extension last week, there is speculation that Buffalo could choose Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill if he's still on the board.